Authors: Ramanathan P, Turner HA, Stevens MC
Title: Intensive cognitive rehabilitation therapy for chronic traumatic brain injury: a case study of neural correlates of functional improvement
Source: Aphasiology 2019 33(3): 289-319
Year: 2019
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: Some four million Americans are living with chronic disability related to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Yet, very little research has investigated training-induced neuroplasticity over many hours of treatment well into the chronic stage for the most commonly impaired functions (attention, executive functions (EFs), and prospective memory (PM)).Aims: The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether a 30-h course of intensive evidence-based treatments of attention, EFs, and PM would show behavioural gains and associated brain structural and/or functional changes in an individual well into the chronic phase of recovery from TBI.Methods & Procedures: An A-B single-participant quasi-experimental design with 1 month post-treatment follow-up was employed for cognitive rehabilitation of a 54-year-old man, 7.5 years after severe TBI. After an initial 4-week pre-treatment baseline phase, 30 hours of therapy was provided over 3 weeks, targeting attention, PM, and EFs, with follow-up testing at 1-month post-treatment. Treatments (selected from evidence-based practice guidelines) consisted of attention process training, metacognitive strategy instruction, and PM training. Neuroimaging (auditory oddball paradigm, resting state, and diffusion tensor imaging) was conducted weekly from the end of the A-phase, through the end of the B-phase, and then at 1-month follow-up.Outcomes & Results: Results demonstrated gains to behavioural and quality of life measures for attention and EFs, with evidence of associated structural and functional neuroplasticity. There was no evidence of change to PM skills.Conclusions: Intensive evidence-based treatment of attention and EFs improved functioning and quality of life in an individual well into the chronic phase of TBI, and may be associated with structural and functional neuroplasticity.

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